Impostor masquerades as BBC journalist

Mohaman Babalala impersonator and the real Mohaman Babalala The real Mohaman Babalala (right) and his impersonator

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An impostor has been masquerading as a BBC journalist in Nigeria.

Mohaman Babalala, the Corporation's Hausa correspondent in Cameroon, was alerted to his double after receiving a flurry of calls from friends.

They'd heard someone purporting to be him, but with a different voice, speaking on Nigeria's Radio Yola.

Babalala was at home at the time, across the border in Yaounde, the Cameroon capital.

'I couldn't help being anxious, wondering what this man had been saying in my name,' the real BBC man explains on the BBC News Magazine site.

'Later, I found out. Work at the BBC was very hard and demanding… much harder than working for local papers and radio stations. He also said he was working on a project funded by the World Bank, which was part of Nigeria and Cameroon's Flood Control Programme'

While Babalala undoubtedly works hard at the BBC, he confirms that he has never worked for the World Bank.

Not me, chief

It reminded him of another incident, a couple of years ago, when he visited Maiduguri in Nigeria. A colleague there mentioned a report that the chief of the Kanuri people had been approached by someone claiming to be the BBC Hausa correspondent in Cameroon.

'It hadn't been me,' explains the reporter, who has been in the role since 2006; he laughed it off at the time, even feeling 'a little flattered'.

'Looking back, I feel sure that this was the same impostor that took to the airwaves on Radio Yola, since he spouted that same cock-and-bull story about working for the World Bank,' Babalala says.

He believes the man might be impersonating him for money ('the local press in Cameroon is corrupt') and prestige ('I am quite well-known').

Now less amused and more irritated by the saga, Babalala has been on Radio Yola to clarify the situation.

'I had to prove that I was me,' he says. 'They asked me to sign off in my special [sing-song] way so that the audience could know I was the real Babalala.'

And he can now put a face to the other him, after a picture was posted on Facebook from a Nigerian newspaper, with 'Babalala' standing beside a local official.

'I can see that it is quite funny,' he concedes, 'but I preferred it when there was only one of me.'

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